Video: Hillbilly Archaeology


An American expat returns to his North Carolina roots after many years of living abroad. Come along on the journey as he seeks to understand the cultural changes that have taken place in his absence.

Part scavenger hunt, part environmental commentary, Hillbilly Archaeology is intended to educate and entertain.

However, in the end, perhaps it merely represents the troubled mind of its creator in his feeble attempt to find connections along the road less traveled.

peace~henry

Categories: Culture, EnvironmentTags: , ,

26 comments

  1. Sadly, we face many of the same challenges here!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh no, that is sad to hear. I usually assume that policies and practices in Western Europe are a bit more enlightened than here in the States. I do so love trees!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sadly, that is not the case. Maybe we have the right rhetoric but it is never implemented. The farming lobby is very powerful here.
        On a personal level, the field beside my house was once 8!!! 8 manageable fields separated with hedgerows, now, just a monster. To help the massive combines turn easier, all the centennial oaks that bordered the whole thing have been felled too πŸ™‚ Gahh

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Curious finds – its like the aftermath of something like a sci-fi movie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ogden. Exactly, and I feel very much like the alien who has been transported to a different world. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well over here in the UK, every square inch of land has been modified by human activity at some point, its amazing how the land has been exported – now with the modern age the whole thing is far worse in terms of pollution and environmental damage, it would be great if a time would come where our destructive path has been annulled, but for that to happen now it would probably mean the earth falling into the sun! Hmm, bit drastic! I do feel sad though about all the non degradable junk we leave!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Ogden,

        I lived in the UK (Scotland) while doing my graduate degree and I love the countryside landscapes there, even though — as you point out — signs of humanity’s influence are everywhere.

        I get it. It’s difficult to muster positive emotions when we look at the environmental damage taking place on a daily basis. Perhaps, it’s better to simply focus our energies on small scale projects on a local level where we’re more likely to have an impact.

        Thanks again for your thoughts!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well said Henry, I think you are exactly right! There’s always more to learn about our remarkable path too, I was reading this morning about the history of charcoal, and subsequently gunpowder, amazing really how we proceed – if not progress, its just a matter of perception I guess. There’s gaps in my education, we probably studied those links at school, but it kind of got buried under all the other stuff in my learning, it makes sense to look back as well as forwards for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Henry. I did watch the entire thing and am not desperate. It was good to see you.
    .
    I grew up in rural Illinois. Our home was about 4 miles north of a very small town. There were farmhouses about every half mile. Today, there are only a couple left. The one I grew up in was burned to the ground on purpose in 1992 in order to be able to farm straight through. It was a farmhouse of my great-grandfather from the 1870s. As the family genealogist, I hate watching these things disappear.
    .
    I liked the metal cow and the carving.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Jim. Oh, that is very sad to hear that your great-grandfather’s house was destroyed for the sake of convenience. I’ve witnessed the passing of many well-built older houses here as well. The transplants moving in tend to want to build new, rather than restore older homes. I love history. My favorite places to travel usually have a blend of the best of the old and the new. Thanks for watching and sharing your insights.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. First of all, congrats on your new video project! I watched your entire video because I’m curious about life in rural America. It would’ve been good to see early photos of the forested area. In response to your closing question: I would love to see the way people live in the region–at home, at work, at play, cultural events, and more. All the best moving forward πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel like you Rosaliene. Even though I grew up in this rural area of NC, I feel I have a dismal understanding of what makes the local people tick. Growing up, I always dreamed of leaving and I didn’t maintain contact with any high school friends. And my life has been, well, transient to put it mildly. Yes, I wish I had photos of the forested areas before the trees were cut. I plan to do another post on the deforestation in this community. Thanks for adding your interests to the discussion. Happy writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Henry, glad you’re back home, working on a new project! I watched the whole video too. πŸ™‚ I love archeology. I was thinking it could be cool to make a mosaic with the pottery shards. I like Rosaliene ‘s ideas of videos of rural social events. I know you are resourceful, is there a local archeologist you could interview about your finds? What are the changes in terms of population and farm acreage in your area?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Fun and interesting, yet sad and painful.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting stuff Henry. I also made it through the whole thing. Welcome back. Unfortunately a few things have gone downhill while you were away.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Some of my ancestors came from North Carolina. But that was back in the 1700s-1800s. For a few summers after high school, I lived and worked at a YMCA conference center near Black Mountain. It was in the Blue Ridge Mountains and it was nothing but forests, not useful for farming. What your showing in this video looks more like Kentucky or the lower Midwest. My early childhood was spent in the nearby region of Ohio at the edge of the upper Appalachia. My hometown in the county directly adjacent to Appalachia. It was the kind of small factory town that drew up many Upper South families, as was described in Hillbilly Elegy. My family ended up there by other means as my parents came from Indiana.

    The whole region of the Upper South and lower edge of the Lower Midwest used to be heavily forested and still is in many places. I now live in Iowa that once was 90% wetlands but now has more trees than it did before it was taken over by farmers. Many of the places I’ve known since childhood actually haven’t changed as much as one might expect. My birthplace in Ohio hasn’t grown significantly nor gone into decline. By the way, when my parents and I visited an old family farm in Kentucky, not a place I’ve ever lived, there was little farming left in the area and it was mostly turning back into forests again. Most of Kentucky never had good soil for farming in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Benjamin. How nice it must have been to spend summers working at a camp near Black Mountain, NC. I love the beauty of that area. Much of it is national forest land and not in danger of development…yet…although it’s long been popular with tourists, retirees and artists. I remember reading 20 years ago that half the land in the NC mountains was owned by people from out of state, especially Floridians who have summer homes there.

      My family lives 2 hours east of Asheville and an hour north of Charlotte. The county — Iredell — has the largest number of dairy operations in NC, which has, in turn, increased the demand for nearby large scale crop production to feed those growing herds of cows. The demise of the family farm and the rise of factory farming has been with us for decades. It seems the larger the scale of the operation, the more difficult it is to control the waste and smell. I don’t rail against change in general, but I do deplore the destruction of our natural environment, whether it’s polluting streams or cutting down trees. I’m also grateful that I didn’t grow up in a rural area with massive pigs farms. I’ve experienced those in eastern NC and they are truly terrible neighbors.

      Thanks as always for your insights.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Iowa is known for both cows and pigs. That is nearly the entire Iowan economy. Indeed, pig farms do have a reputation. Fortunately, there are none near where I live. Just endless fields of corn and soy, though interspersed with woods and streams. It is actually quite hilly in this part of Iowa, closer as we are to rivers, including the Mississippi. The infamous flatness is found further west which is attractive for big ag farming.

        One of my uncles recently died. We went back to Indiana to deal with his house and settle the estate. It reminded me again of some differences. For one, Hoosiers are really overweight, even by Midwestern standards. I don’t know what they’re eating there. For the relevant point, Indiana has a lot of forests. Unlike Illinois or even Iowa, the old woodlots and tree-lined fields remain the norm across much of Indiana. I don’t know why that is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve done multiple coast to coast road trips so I’ve seen parts of Iowa several times due to its central location. I also have a close friend who grew up near Cedar Rapids who has talked a lot about the area. Happy to hear you have hills, woods and streams nearby. Being close to such natural areas (wherever I’ve lived across the planet) has been an absolute necessity for my physical and emotional wellbeing. Take care Benjamin.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Here in Iowa City (home of the UI Hawkeyes), I’m just down the road from Cedar Rapids. It’s part of what is called the ‘Corridor’, the main area of population concentration.

        In this part of Iowa, besides the Iowa River cutting through town, there are numerous creeks. I so love creeks and played in them often as a child. I’ve almost always lived nearby creeks.

        One of my favorite things about North Carolina was the mountain streams. Beautiful! There was also this retention pond up the mountain that was maybe 20 feet deep and I could see clear to the bottom. All that it had in it were some bullfrog tadpoles.

        With all the farm runoff, we don’t have clear water like that here in Iowa, sadly. Still, the sound of trickling water, even if a bit murky, is soothing to the soul.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Very inreresting and sad. So this was a former dump and now they are going to grow crops on top of it? Have they done soil analysis? Who knows what chemical poisons are there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi John and Susan,

      The dump area was only used by a few neighborhood families for refuse that couldn’t be burned. While it’s a terrible idea, it was also a normal part of life back in the day before counties opened formal waste disposal sites. I also doubt that anything dumped there would be any more hazardous than the host of chemicals the farmers use in no-till agriculture these days. The crops grown on the fields around this area (and I think this is true for the majority of the crop land in the USA) are used to feed cattle, for both dairy and beef production. In reality, however, we all would probably be surprised to know what sort of chemicals contaminate the soil where our food is grown. Still, I’d trust your food sources there — even with what I assume is a lower level of regulation — over the factory farming techniques used here in the USA. Take care and enjoy the beauty of the Andean highlands!

      Liked by 1 person

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